By Ashwath Vimal
“WandaVision” is a show that exceeds expectations through excelling in nearly all areas. It has great storytelling and narration and effectively uses different mediums to deliver the plot. The show is also well written and fulfills fans’ dreams of using material from the comics. It is a success in more ways than one, and here is why:
This show is vastly different from any other Marvel series we have seen before. It is a show that goes above and beyond, and it has many features that make it remarkable. The new Disney+ show aired from Jan. 15 to March 5 for nine episodes, and it is the first of many Marvel television series that will be released on the platform.
The beginning of “WandaVision,” introduces us to the two main protagonists, with the first three episodes representing three different decades of sitcom television shows. They share the experiences that Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) go through as a couple in a suburban neighborhood, such as dealing with annoying neighbors, attending community events and having children.
The following episodes show us that Wanda has created this reality because of the death of Vision in “Avengers Endgame,” making it so that Vision is alive. Members of S.W.O.R.D (an organization that fights extraterrestrial threats) Tyler Hayward and Monica Rambeau are trying to get rid of this reality, with Rambeau eventually breaking away due to Hayward’s views.
Events in the reality are being manipulated by a witch named Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), who pretends to be under Wanda’s control as her neighbor. Her true goal, however, is to steal Wanda’s power. At the end of the series, Wanda finally overcomes her grief from Vision’s death and releases everyone from the alternate reality. She also lets go of her children and Vision, whom she made up using her powers. She finally defeats the antagonist and flies off into the distance, effectively ending the nine-episode series.
This show is not your typical superhero series. First of all, it is widely connected to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), as main characters from the movies are present. Storylines are also intertwined with plots from movies such as “Ant-Man” and “Thor,” with many references to them included throughout the show. “WandaVision” also sets up future projects like “Captain Marvel 2” and “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
The show, unlike your usual action series, also explores concepts beyond fight scenes and conflicts such as loss, trauma and human tendencies. Throughout the series, we are shown how Wanda deals with her grief over the loss of Vision, and what she does to heal the hole in her heart. However, we are also shown how Monica deals with her grief over the loss of her mother by trying to live up to her legacy instead of becoming overcome with grief like Wanda.
We see physical conflicts between Wanda and Agatha Harkness, and Wanda and Tyler Hayward. Simultaneously, we witness emotional conflict within Wanda herself about whether or not having her perfect life with Vision is worth it when she is hurting innocent people. This expands the show into something more than just your average superhero show, and into a show about love and how it affects people. In the case of Wanda and Monica, it is care for loved ones and in the cases of Hayward and Harkness, it’s love for power. This allows the show to connect with the audience on a more personal level.
Furthermore, near the end of the series we see Monica admit that she would have done the same thing Wanda did if she could have. This illustrates the human tendency to be selfish, no matter what kind of person you are.
The sitcom theme that “WandaVision” imitates provides many great storytelling devices from comic relief to emulating sitcom stereotypes. However, the show itself is not an actual sitcom. The show’s homage to sitcoms was a meaningful medium to deliver a message about her grief. She wanted to live a perfect life with no disturbances as a reaction to losing Vision. Sitcoms are a genre where the most dangerous thing that occurs is comic mischief, making this reality an escape for Wanda.
Another positive aspect of the show is the writing. Often, the visual and sound effects that the writers implement create a sense of suspense in certain scenes that would benefit from it, like when Wanda and Agatha fight in the series finale. The visual and sound effects also help grab the attention of the audience and keep them captivated.
The writing of the show also excels in other ways. The tone and mood in every scene are set very well, which compliments the scenes and makes them flow naturally. The show does not include any lazy writing, with characters not coming off as lackluster and the plots are all interconnected and mix well with each other. Furthermore, the dialogue is not dull and body language is used well to express the characters as human beings instead of robots taking turns saying things to each other.
The show also the show draws on the source material of the comics in this show often, something fans have been wishing for a long time. For example, Wanda’s costume is the perfect mix between representing the comics and adapting it for a television show. In a previous episode, Wanda wears a Halloween costume that is a replica of her comic book outfit. This highlights how it would not look good on screen, so they went for a more realistic approach.
Another way the show draws on the comics is through the storylines of the show. The idea of Wanda creating the perfect reality for herself is from a comic book storyline called “House of M,” where Wanda does a similar thing in a different context. The aspect of the alternate reality being based in a normal, suburban neighborhood is from “The Visions” storyline, where Vision tries to do the same thing with a family of his own.
While a big part of the show’s success is due to the plot, visual effects, themes, and more, it could not have been as phenomenal as it could have been without the astounding acting of Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, and Kathryn Hahn.
Bettany, Olsen, and Hahn played the roles of a sitcom husband and wife and the nosy neighbor perfectly, especially Olsen and Hahn, imitating the sitcoms they drew inspiration from to the tea. And once we strayed more away from the sitcom theme, Olsen played Wanda with true passion throughout emotional scenes. Bettany played Vision just as well through his charming humor. Furthermore, Hahn also portrayed Agatha Harkness skillfully, from her villainous cackle to her well-timed jokes.
However, one main criticism of the show was the pacing, especially with the first two or three episodes. Many critics say that solely focusing on the sitcom trope for the first few episodes lasted too long and that the minimal amount of action made them want the story to unfold much faster. Nevertheless, the slower pacing does not take away from the fact that each episode on its own was very well written and directed.
While “WandaVision” was great in every other aspect in the broad perspective of things, there was one particular scene in the finale that I had a problem with.
Wanda has finally released the people of Westview from her control and has to face them while exiting the town. They are all staring at her with looks of fear and hatred. When Monica and Wanda encounter each other as she is about to exit, Monica says, “They will never know what you sacrificed for them.” It is almost as if Monica is completely excusing Wanda’s actions because of what she has done to help others in the past.
While yes, she has, and she also does feel remorse for what she did, it does not change the fact that she took away people’s livelihoods and caused them pain. I did not think this scene should have illustrated the idea that bad actions can be excused with previous good actions.
However, one scene does not reduce the show’s overall quality. While “WandaVision” may have had a few areas that were not up to par with the rest of the show, it excelled in most others. As shown by the 91% percent rating that it has on Rotten Tomatoes, a couple of faults do not degrade the quality of the show, and that it was widely accepted by many.
Another thing that proves the popularity of the show and fans’ animated support of it is the well-known song “Agatha All Along,” which describes how Agatha Harkness has been pulling strings in Wanda’s reality to make it easier for her to steal Wanda’s power. The song is described by many as having catchy lyrics and an upbeat flow.
Additionally, the song has accumulated millions of views on YouTube and has reached the number one spot on the iTunes Soundtrack chart. The directors and Kathryn Hahn also did not expect it to blow up, adding to the many things that indicate the show’s immense support.
Overall, “WandaVision” is a work of art, from how it expresses different ideas to how the characters develop throughout the show. Moreover, it is very popular among the Marvel fan-base and can even appeal to non-Marvel fans. I would recommend you watch it if you have a subscription to Disney+. I give this show a 9/10, as it has lived up to its expectations, making it worth the amount of time and money put into it.